Wicked-ly Delicious

 

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Things have been so busy that I have found myself seriously neglecting my blog.  Not to say that I haven’t still be making things, but I haven’t had time to share all the lovely things I’ve been doing with my girls.

Well, this coming week is Halloween!  I can’t say that I am an avid participator in the holiday, but being a class mom and having two small girls who love dressing up, I find myself getting sucked in.  While both my daughters are having Halloween parties at school, I volunteered to bring the cupcakes for my youngest since I will be missing her parade to be at the eldest’s class party.

I wanted to be sure to make something that was a little more  thoughtful than the regular store-bought cupcakes (seeing as how there is no specialty cupcake store in my area that I know of).  I scoured websites and Pinterest for a simple yet fun Halloween cupcake and found this.  I had to slightly modify it based on the ingredients that I was able to find, but I think that they ended up really cute.

I know that both my daughters were very excited to help make the witches hats (especially the unwrapping of the kisses, and then making sure that they were still good… haha!)  These were relatively simple to make, and I took a little shortcut, buying a boxed cake mix since I was a little pinched for time.  Below is the quick and dirty on how I made them:

Witches Hats:

1 bag of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Kisses

1 package Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers

1 recipe buttercream frosting

Hat Assembly: Unwrap the kisses.  Place buttercream frosting using a very small tip to ice the bottom and place it in the center of a wafer, pressing down firmly.  Pipe a ring around the bottom of the kiss to the wafer and finish with a bow.  Set aside.

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1 box Devil’s Food Cake (makes 24 cupcakes)

Cupcake Assembly: Using a large round tip, pipe the frosting onto the cupcake starting at the outer edge and then spiraling inwards.  Sprinkle the sprinkles of your choice around the sides of the frosting and place one of the witches hats on the top of the frosting.  I kinked them a little so that you could see the frosting with the sprinkles peeking out from under the hat as a little teaser.

I ended up making the frosting green and having the girls sprinkle purple and orange sprinkles on the cupcakes before adorning each with a hat.  I think that these turned out really cute and they were really quick and easy to make with the kids help.  Hopefully all of my daughters friends will have as much fun eating them as she did in making them!  Happy Halloween everyone!

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Lofty Ambitions

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Before my youngest turned three, we promised her that once she was three she would get a “big girl bed”. Previously she had been sleeping on a mattress on the floor to get her used to sleeping on a twin mattress while not having to worry about her falling off the bed each night. A little less than a year ago, my daughters decided they wanted to share a bedroom so we moved the floor mattress into my eldest daughter’s room. While the room is a good size, having two twin beds really reduced the usable space in the room because of the shape of the room and the way the door swings.

When we moved to this house, we bought a really nice twin bed frame for my eldest daughter (she had just turned three and it was her first “big girl bed”). I didn’t want to get rid of this frame so I was looking for a solution that would maintain use of this bed but still allow both girls to have a real bed. Bunk beds wouldn’t work so I was looking for loft bed solutions. I really wanted a loft bed with stairs because I was worried about my daughter climbing down a ladder in the middle of the night if she needed to go to the restroom. Unfortunately, all the loft bed solutions with stairs that I found were both VERY expensive, and they would not allow the door of the room to open. I was a little stuck.

Enter, Pinterest. I started looking for different solutions and found an amazing tutorial for a loft bed with stairs that I could modify slightly to work with our room layout! I had to change some of the dimensions to fit our existing bed frame underneath as well as modify the steps and landing because of the limitations of the door swing. But, all in all, it was pretty good.

I made this bed over Memorial Day week-end. It took me about 2 full days (having to field two very curious children, borrowing some very old and not quite right power tools from my neighbors, and not having a proper worktable so rigging up bricks on my patio floor as my “cutting table”). All materials cost a little less than $300, which is about 1/6 the price of any loft bed with stairs I was able to find that might have fit in our space. Of course, being the architect I am, I had to draw it out with my modifications and the room layout to really get it straight in my head what I was trying to do. I think my husband thought I was a little cuckoo to start this project on Saturday afternoon of Memorial Day week-end, but amazingly, everything fell into place!

My daughters were very interested to see mommy using power tools and assembling something from scratch, but I wanted to show them that this is not impossible. I was a little rusty at first and the circular saw I used was probably twenty-five pounds, but I ended up getting most of the cuts pretty straight, which is amazing given how I didn’t have a level surface anywhere and I had to eyeball a bunch of stuff.

Modifications made were really surrounding the mattress support, adding some diagonal bracing for stability, and the steps/ ladder solution. We used (3) 3/4″ thk birch plywood sheets cut down to size for the mattress support (since it was raining the day we got materials so we were trying to put everything into the car to avoid getting anything wet). Since our loft wasn’t braced on both sides by walls, I needed to add some bracing to allow for more stability when the girls climb up the top bunk. The steps were made using the leftover plywood sheets for the treads and the platform was really just scraps that I threw together to make the landing and attach to the loft frame. I have to say, I’m quite proud of the result and it felt great to be making something with my hands again.

My daughters just LOVE this bed. We have attached a sheet to the top rail of the loft and use it as a curtain to create a “tent” where they read books and play together.  We put a little rug and a seat and some pillows to make it more comfy.  This week-end they are each getting one night to sleep in the tent with the sheet closed for a mini-adventure in make-believe land.  This project is already worth its weight in gold.

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Holiday Cheer to Share

It’s the most wonderful time of the year again!  I love the holidays and the festive nature.  Seeing all the decorations, hearing the wood crackle as you build a fire, smelling the aromas of cinnamon and gingerbread, these are all things I associate with the holidays.  I can’t believe the year has flown by so quickly and we are here once again!

This year I (finally) started thinking of holiday gifts far enough in advance to plan for something other than a gift card for my children’s teachers.  I trolled ideas on pinterest and thought of what gifts both my girls could help make.  I settled on homemade hot chocoate mix with individualized marshmallows.  I saw a pin of marshmallows decorated using food coloring pens that I thought would be fun for the girls to make. 

I ordered some small metal tins on Amazon,  found some circular holiday stickers for the lids,  and used a 2.5″ circular punch to make an instructon label to fix to the back. This is the result. 

The girls had a great time decorating the marshmallows and helping me make the cocoa mix.  I ended up pre-mixing sugar with Ghiradelli cocoa powder and then packaging them into the tins, with the help of my eldest.  I got small 4″ clear cookie bags for the marshallows and found a great 6″ striped holiday cookie bag for the overall package.  I hope the teachers and care providers like these handmade gifts!

What are you making for the holidays?

Eraser Fun

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My eldest daughter really loves art projects.  Give her an art pad and some colored pencils or crayons and she will be entertained for a good hour or more by herself.  Since she tends to have such an affinity for drawing or art projects,  I am always looking for new ideas of things to do to keep her interested.

My cousins came for a visit over the summer and not only did they bring some awesome colored pencils,  paper pad and stickers, they also brought a really cool make your own eraser kit!  Within the compact plastic case, you saw pristine squares of soft colored rubber waiting to be molded into whatever your imagination and hands were capable of.  She was so excited when she got this gift that she proceeded to show it to me every day until I said we had time to do this project. I finally relented after a couple of days (so this post has been a long time coming!)

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The cool thing is this material is a lot like play-doh except once you are done,  you bake it in the oven and it will harden into an usable eraser. When I asked her what she wanted to make,  she immediately decided on a pink piggie.  Pink is one of her favorite colors right now so I’m hardly surprised she found a way to use the pink first.

I busted out a 1/2″ diameter wood dowel, some toothpicks, and a plastic for and knife to use as shaping tools for our projects.  I decided to make a purple dinosaur (not Barney)!  It was quite fun and as you worked longer with the original material, it became more pliable and moldable,  although it did get stickier as well.

I helped my daughter get the shape just right after her first go of it by herself. I showed her how to add a hole in the bottom so you could mount it on a pencil, how to attach limbs, etc.  It was very similar to working on a clay sculpture.  I think that the end results are super cute and my daughter had such a great time making these.  I can’t wait for round two!

3 for 3

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My daughter just turned 3 years old! I cannot believe how fast time flies. It feels like just yesterday I was holding her in my arms for the first time and marveling at how perfect she was in my arms and how reliant she was on me for everything! Now, I can barely hold her and she’s become so independent.  Now, I don’t know about you, but many of my daughter’s friends were born around the same time as her.

We have officially reached birthday season! It’s always a little bit of a challenge to throw a birthday party that won’t conflict with two to three of her other friends. So, the moms of the 3 musketeers decided to throw a joint 3-year old birthday party, since many of their friends overlap. We didn’t have a particular theme, although we had decided on spring colors. When asked what she wanted to do for her birthday, my daughter said she wanted “purple ballerinas”. Huh. Is that right. Okay…..

So, purple ballerinas for her cupcakes it was!  I racked my brain for how to make a purple ballerina cupcake.  I thought “well, maybe I can get a cupcake topper?”  I searched for all sorts, like little doll toppers, ballerina toppers, etc.  Most of them were in pink , but I figured I could use purple cupcake liners and then use a pink topper and it would still be okay.  I finally settled on the following liners and edible cupcake toppers.  For the cupcake recipe, I decided to be a little different and go with a strawberry cupcake instead of a traditional vanilla or yellow cupcake.  I found a great recipe on Martha Stewart here and I opted for a very simple buttercream frosting recipe.

When my daughter found out I was making birthday cupcakes, she was very excited.  She helped me to decorate the cupcakes.  I made the cupcakes the night before and the day of the party, I made the icing, iced the cupcakes, and had her press on the toppers for the party.  She was very into it and especially loved helping us pack the cupcakes away as she would get icing on her hands and get to lick it all off.  Once they were packed and we got to the party venue, she immediately wanted to have a cupcake!  Well, I’m glad she was so excited.

The party was a big success!  I will have to write another post for it as there was so much going on. I’m sad to say we didn’t take a lot of pictures.  Seeing as how we had in excess of 20 children under the age of 5, it was a little bit hectic.  Well, you only turn 3 once!